Patriots Week 6 Recap: I’ll Take A “Rest Of The Season,” Hold the Mayo…

So I haven’t been blogging at all recently because I’ve been busy slinging insurance and writing/recording music videos about owning a 2003 Saab 9-3. Plus, this past weekend was my school’s Alumni Weekend so cut me some slack if there are any grammatical errors.

Anyway, the Patriots landed in Western New York on Sunday and did what they’ve seemingly done every season over the course of the last decade or so: stomp out the Buffalo Bills to collect one of their five, seasonally guaranteed divisional wins and this year was no different…

Offense

First and foremost, Tom Brady is officially back to being Tom Brady. While last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati proved he still has a few Duraflame logs left in the fireplace, this past Sunday’s game against Buffalo proved he can still operate at an elite level on a week-to-week basis.

Tom had a decent amount of YAC support from guys like Lafell (97 yards; 2 Touchdowns) and Edelman (91 yards) but 350 yards and 4 end zone slings is still 350 yards and 4 end zone slings any way you want to cut it.

Throughout the first half hour of play, the offense sputtered as the Patriots trudged into halftime with a fragile 13-7 lead. However, as soon as the game clock struck 14:59 in the third quarter, it became clear that—even though the tide in the AFC East will eventually turn—Ralph Wilson most likely won’t be hosting any games this January.

Brady & Co. coasted out of the locker room at half with a purpose. They avoided pressure by dumping it off when necessary, they opened up the field with a few shots downfield, and they maintained their allegiance to the ground game.

Most importantly though, this team demonstrated they have the ability to RESPOND. Whenever things were beginning to look like weeks 1-4, the offense elevated tempo and cycled through a laundry list of formations.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: this offense should be running on a 2,000 calorie intake of two tight-end sets a day. I understand that executing that over the past couple seasons was difficult without a genuine pass-catching tight end to counter Gronk (94 yards), but this Wright guy has shown signs he could be the solution—good versatility, adequate mitts, no evidence of murderous compulsion. A few more weeks in the system should be all he needs to gain some confidence, draw coverage, and hopefully dilute the negative impact of Ridley’s absence.

P.S. Is it too early/late to throw Brian Tyms (43 yards; TD) on this year’s HOF ballot? I know we’ve only seen this kid in flashes, but the flashes we’ve seen could rack up one hell of an electric bill. That 40-yard TD snag to open the flood gates in the second quarter was cold-blooded stuff.

Defense

Point blank: defense is what kept the Pats from imploding in that first half. Kyle Orton threaded a few more reads than he should’ve, but the secondary’s ability to recover, swarm the open field, and capitalize on loose-ball opportunities was the difference.

In particular, Chung showed up out of nowhere (9 tackles) while Chandler Jones (5 tackles; 1 sack) and Rob Ninkovich (6 tackles; 3 sacks) spent more time in Buffalo’s backfield than CBS’ wire-flown broadcast camera.

It was an all-around suffocating performance by Patricia’s squad, but in the end, the most critical takeaway from Sunday was the injury to Jarod Mayo.

Regardless of who you root for, it’s tough to not feel for #51 right now. I understand that blowing an ACL is one of risks of lacing up on Sunday, but it’s still discouraging to watch his ass get carted off the field following something as minuscule as a 2-yard draw to open up a series. Some guys just can’t seem to catch a break in this league; it just sucks that one of those guys is Jarod Mayo.

Looking Forward

Moving forward, I have no idea how Big Dick Bill and Josh McDaniels plan to compensate for the absence of their leading rusher but it’s going to take some Adderall because after the Jets, the Pats are scheduled to face Chicago, Denver, Indy, Detroit, and Green Bay—so Cutler, Peyton, Luck, Stafford, and Rodgers—in succession.

In other words, if this offense isn’t prepared for shootout football, the next five weeks could get uglier than Scarlett Johansson if Scarlett Johansson was actually just Sam Cassell and not Scarlett Johansson at all.

On the other side of the ball, things are pretty much up in the air as well.

If the Pats elect to remain in a 4-3, they’re left with a few options: a.) throw Deontae Skinner to the wolves at outside linebacker; b.) force Nink to outside linebacker and pray that Dominique Easley doesn’t completely soil himself; or c.) scrap the 4-3 completely and rely on Chandler Jones to single-handedly apply heat from the edge.

All things considered, it’s also plausible that the Pats don’t do any of those things and come up with something exponentially smarter, but then again, that’s why they get paid to coach whereas I get paid to spew misinformed bullshit on WordPress…

Patriots Week 5 Recap: I’m Baccckkkkkk

So it’s been a full 24 hours since the Patriots’ Sunday night showdown against the Bengals and it’s safe to say I feel a bit more optimistic about their Superbowl chances than I did a week ago. In fact, nearly all of my faith has been restored in this team after watching them blow the doors off Cincinnati last night and I fully understand how that makes me illogical, but I don’t care. Sunday night’s victory was the definition of a “statement win” against an undefeated playoff contender—that was coming off two weeks rest—on national television; and if that’s not something to get gassed up about, I don’t know what is…

Even before kickoff, Gillette was absolutely JUICED! You could hear the crowd stringing together “Brady” chants over NBC’s broadcast during warmups and, in a weird way, it was as if every single person in that stadium (excluding those who flew in from Ohio, obviously) was firing on the same wavelength. And for the first time in what had seemed like forever, this team displayed some moxie and established a sense of fluency on both sides of the ball for a full 60 minutes and it couldn’t have come at a more desirable time.

Offense

For starters, getting the ball first was HUGE because the Patriots rolled out of the tunnel Sunday night as if they were playing the ISIS All-Pro team. I won’t go as far as to say that the coin toss dictated the outcome of the game; nevertheless, I can’t definitively claim that things would’ve played out the same way if Cincinnati received the opening kickoff and put our offense on ice for a couple minutes.

With everything considered, though, the most important thing that happened on Sunday was that Brady turned the clocks back in Foxborough and looked like he inhaled an 8-ball of pre-workout in the locker room. You could just tell that this last week had affected him because he looked like a man possessed in that first quarter. I nearly suffered an aneurism when he elected to tuck it and run on the opening drive—which, by the way, was his first of three rushes during that series—and watching him parade around the sidelines like some high school kid drunk off a six-pack of Busch Light gave me chills.

I’m not entirely sure how much credit should go to McDaniels because of how dominant the Patriots were in every physical facet of the game: the receivers were creating space, the running backs were refusing to go down via initial contact, and the line was winning one-on-one battles up front. I will, however, note that it was refreshing to see McDaniels revert back to a steady onslaught of two-tight-end sets like the Pats used to run with Hernandez before he *allegedly* killed that guy…

I don’t know what was said at the offensive line meeting this past Tuesday but evidently it worked because those guys played brilliant. Fluke or not, Solder & Co. stepped it up against one of the better front fours in the entire league. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when Brady isn’t swallowed by his own pocket prior to finishing a three-step drop.

Aside from a few inexcusable drops, Gronk finally looked like Gronk again; and although he still isn’t operating at 100%, the week-to-week is there and we’ll likely see some solid fantasy lines from him as the season progresses—especially if guys like Wright and Lafell can start drawing some attention away from the middle of the field.

Gostkowski is a fucking savage. He’ll never reach a point where he’s considered the best kicker in Patriot history—I mean, Adam Vinatieri did a lot of cool stuff when he was here too—but that guy doesn’t get nearly enough credit for how consistently well he’s played for this team over the years.

Everybody in the bar I was watching the game at went BANANAS when Amendola caught that first down pass. Guys were high-fiving and buying each other celebratory Fireball shots and shit. Gotta’ love Massachusetts’ allegiance to sarcasm…

Defense

It wast the most immaculate performance in recent memory, but with all things considered, the defense earned their paycheck Sunday night. They lined up against an above-average offensive squad with a few legitimate weapons and managed to make them look mediocre—that’s just the long and short of it.

The most critical takeaway from Sunday night’s defensive performance was that it first game that Revis was requested to be what he agreed to be when he inked his contract back in March: a shutdown corner. In other words, Matt Patricia finally decided to ball-and-chain Revis’ ass to a single receiver rather than continuing to employ zone schemes—which makes about as much sense as running the read option with Brady behind center. I don’t want to claim that I could be a better defensive coordinator, but when you pay a guy $12 million to lock guys up, let him lock guys up…

I hate saying the refs sucked because every sports fan who has ever watched a game of anything has said that. HOWEVER, those refs sucked. That sequence where the Pats got called for roughly 8 holding penalties in a span of 6 plays (I think in the second quarter) was an absolute joke. I swear Hightower got flagged for breathing too heavy somewhere in the middle of that. And by the way, why the fuck was that run on the fumble recovery called back to the spot of the second fumble? Is that even a thing? Is that one of the NFL’s new “Points of Emphasis”?

The more I write, the more I realizing that the Patriots really didn’t play all that great on defense; however, they just didn’t play all that bad on defense either. They made stops when they needed to make stops but there are ultimately two legitimate conclusions I can draw regarding Cincinnati’s tendency to put the ball on the carpet: one, the Patriots defense is exceptionally disciplined when it comes to knocking the ball loose; or two, Cininnati’s receiving core just sucked Sunday night. It could go either way, but whatever, they played alright…